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Review: Hellion

Ken Korman says Aaron Paul’s turn as the head of a troubled Southern family is impressive

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Shot just across the Louisiana border in the refinery towns of southeastern Texas, writer/director Kat Candler's Hellion generates dramatic tension by portraying the daily lives of a troubled family that may be beyond salvation. Baseball star-turned-alcoholic father Hollis (Aaron Paul, from TV's Breaking Bad) has not recovered from the death of his wife in a car accident, but it's his 13-year-old son Jacob (newcomer Josh Wiggins) and 10-year-old son Wes (Deke Garner) who pay the price. Jacob (the "hellion" of the title) acts out his emotional troubles in escalating acts of vandalism that threaten to put him in juvenile detention, all while pressuring his sweet-natured kid brother to join in the fun. The kids' aunt (Juliette Lewis) and social worker want to help, but that might mean breaking up what remains of the family. Hellion sometimes loses its way, dwelling too long on scenes that add little to the story. But this dark character study captures something recognizable and true about small-town Southern life, from the teenagers' endless boredom to the adults' economic hardships. Found through a homemade YouTube video, Wiggins looks like a pint-sized Matt Damon and manages an intense performance that likely will make him a star. Armed with few words, he makes every cliche about the sins of the father seem painfully real.

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Hellion

Director: Kat Candler

Producer: Kelly Williams, Jonathan Duffy, Janice Beard, Tanner Beard, Suzanne Weinert, Sarah Green and Jeff Nichols

Cast: Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis, Josh Wiggins, Deke Garner, Jonny Mars, Walt Roberts, Dalton Sutton, Camron Owens, Dylan Cole and Annalee Jefferies

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